Anyone who has done much traveling knows that English is not the same everywhere. Even in the USA, each area has their own version or dialect of English. Well, as you can imagine, Ugandan English is very different from American English - VERY different. Here are some examples:
Ugandan: “We must do something, children are being knocked by bodas.”
American: We must do something, children are being ran over by motorcycle taxis.”
Ugandan: “Are you getting me?”
American: “Do you understand what I am trying to say?”
Ugandan: “Would you like a soda?”
American: “Do you want a coke?”
Ugandan: “I am on my way coming.”
American: “I’m coming.”
Ugandan: “I am about to reach.”
American: “I am almost there.”
Explanation: Usually, when a Ugandan says this to you, it really means that you will wait at least 30 more minutes. They are never actually almost there.
Uganda: “He is my brother.”
American: “He is my brother.” OR “He is my half-brother.” OR “He is my step-brother.” OR “He is my cousin.” OR “He is my close friend.” OR “He is my neighbor.” OR “He is a random stranger that just walked up, but we are probably from the same tribe.”
Explanation: Everyone is related here. You must clarify the nature in which they are related. Which leads to the next example.
Ugandan: “Is she the one who produced you?”
American: “Is this your birth mother?”
Explanation: Again, you have to determine how exactly they are related; which leads into the next example.
Ugandan: “She is my mother.”
American: “She is my biological mother.” OR “She is my aunt.” OR “She is my neighbor.” OR “She is older than me.” Or “She is taking care of me.” OR “I want to show respect to her by calling her ‘Mami’.”
Ugandan: “In Uganda, the people produce when they are young.”
American: “In Uganda, the people begin sexual relationships when they are young.”
Ugandan: “John is not picking. Is he near you? I need to speak with him.”
American: “John will not answer his phone. Is he around? I need to talk to him.”
Ugandan: “Flash call me when you are ready.”
American: “Call me and then hang up just as I answer when you are ready.”
Explanation: Everyone has cell phones but few are able to call because you must pay up front for the minutes of airtime. People “flash call” when they have no airtime but need to talk to you. The person receiving a flash call must call the person back, thus using their minutes and not those of the flash caller.
Ugandan: “You don’t want any soda?” “Yes.”
American: “You don’t want any soda?” “No.”
Explanation: Ugandans answer the question you ask. If you ask a negative question and they agree with the negative part, they will answer in the affirmative. In this example, saying “Yes, I do not want soda.” In America, we do the opposite, “no, I don’t want soda.” It get’s confusing sometimes.
Ugandan: “You don’t want a soda?” “No, It’s okay.”
American: “You don’t want a soda?” “No, it’s okay.”
Explanation: We say the same thing, but it means different things. The Ugandan is saying, “Yes, give me a soda.” The American is saying “No, no soda. I am fine.” Again, gets confusing. I just answer with a complete sentence, “No. I do not want a soda.” Otherwise, I am getting the soda and drinking it!
Ugandan: “I am a born of this place.”
American: “I was born here, in this village.”
Last one for now:
Ugandan: “The knife is waiting.”
American: “Your circumcision is coming. You can’t escape, so man up.”
Explanation: Certain tribes wait until a boy is around 18 years old to circumcise. It is not an option. All boys in those tribes MUST undergo this custom. To prepare the young boys, the men of the village remind them whenever they see them that their circumcision is imminent by saying, “The knife is waiting.” This is supposed to prepare the boy mentally so that when it happens, he will not cower, cry or even shudder! And no, there are no pain killers!